Contributory Negligence – are you partly to blame for your accident?

Contributory Negligence is a term by defendants in a personal injury blame, where they consider that the injured person is partly to blame for the accident.

11 Dec 2023

Team name
Holly Minney

Holly Minney

We all have an obligation to take care of ourselves and in some cases if we have an accident, it may not be someone else’s fault or it may have been avoided had we taken more care for ourselves.

As your representative, one of the first things we have to do when pursuing a claim on your behalf is to ascertain who is liable for the accident. One of the first negotiations we will have with the other side will be over who is to blame. In some cases the accident will be 100% the Defendants fault, but in others the Defendants will say that they consider that the injured person is partially to blame. We will then go through a process of trying to agree the extent of the contributory negligence with the other side.

In order that the Defendant can plead that there is contributory negligence they need to show that; the injured person failed to take reasonable care of their own safety, this has caused and contributed towards the injury and it was reasonably foreseeable.

Contributory Negligence is likely to be pleaded by the Defendants in the following circumstances.

  • Failure to wear a seat belt
  • A pedestrian crosses a road on a red light
  • Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Failure to following training and or instructions

The effect of contributory negligence on a claim is that the value of damages you receive will be reduced, by way of an example if your claim was valued at £2000 and contributory negligence was agreed at 50/50 you would then receive £1000.

M&P Commentary

Holly Minney, Head of Dispute Resolution, said:

“There are many technical legal factors that need to be considered when bringing a personal injury claim. In some cases a defendant may allege contributory negligence even where there clearly isn’t any, therefore you need advisors acting for you who understand all these legal factors and who can advise you appropriately.”


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